For most parents, the story of how their child came into their life is something deeply personal. Whether you have physically given birth, adopted, used a surrogate, or become a step-parent, how your child became yours is important and unique to you and your family.
Planned or unplanned, easy or difficult, it is a chapter in your life together. My story is just my story, and I hope that through it I can help create a space for each of us to tell our own stories of how we became parents. Because we may all birth and parent differently, but we all deserve to be honored for the journey we are on with our children. It’s tough and beautiful work we are doing!
With that in mind, I’m honored to (briefly) share the story of my daughter’s birth. If you are a birth nerd like me, feel free to reach out for all the nitty-gritty details! I’ll spare the rest of you and try to stick to the highlights.
In planning for my second child, I knew that I wanted to try for a VBAC. My first birth experience was long and hard and ended in an unexpected c-section. Through tons of research and talks with a few lovely friends who had their babies at home, I decided to hire a homebirth midwife when I got pregnant.
Through a random series of events, including a move to a different apartment at 38 weeks pregnant, it was decided that I would actually have the baby at my doula‘s house, only a few houses down from me. She and her family were generous enough to section off a guest room, bathroom, and space for the birth tub so that we had privacy and lots of space to move around.
I woke up at midnight five days past my “due” date with some fairly strong contractions. (I called it a “guess” date this time since my first came at 41 weeks and 5 days.) I was able to sleep off and on until about six when I woke my husband up and told him he might not be going to work that day.
Through the morning, I was able to get things lined up for my son, go on a walk, and eat a little, all at a very casual pace. After a walk with my husband and friend through the skyway downtown (it was about 20 degrees outside), things started to pick up to the point where I knew we should go settle in down the street.
My doula’s husband and a good friend set up and filled the birth tub while I labored with my husband beside me. By the time it was ready, we were getting to about mid-afternoon and the warm water felt amazing. The midwife was called, and her assistant arrived shortly before she did.
I labored in the tub for a while before getting out for a check and a position change to help with the last bit of dilation. After getting an epidural around 5 centimeters the first time around, I can honestly tell you…transition is real. I was definitely using some adult language and saying I wanted to be done. However, the calm atmosphere and the supportive hands and voices of the six people surrounding me kept me grounded through the next few hours.
I pushed for a long time in the tub. So long, in fact, that my midwife suggested we call my chiropractor to see if he would make a house call. He did, even though it was around 9 o’clock on a Saturday night. He adjusted me while I was still in the tub, and that little shift was just what my body needed to let my baby come down.
I got out of the tub (with some firm encouragement from the birth team) to allow gravity to help a little with the last bit. I pushed my baby out into the waiting hands of my husband at 9:46pm, while sitting on a birth stool in a warm room surrounded by people who gave me every ounce of their energy and love that night.
We had decided to let her sex be a surprise, and there was a collective, “Aawww” from the group when I picked her up and said, “Oh hey, little girl!”
Elliot’s birth was a surreal experience in many ways. The sheer intensity of an unmedicated birth, combined with the fact that I had never experienced pushing before, almost overwhelmed me so many times. If it hadn’t been for the unwavering support of the people around me, I don’t know that I would have chosen that path. But I am so glad that I did.
Like I said at the beginning of this story, this was my experience. It might not be something everyone would want, and that’s okay! The most special thing I took away from the experience was not that I had a home birth or a VBAC, or that I labored in the water. It was that I had purposefully surrounded myself with the support I needed to feel safe, loved, and confident in my decisions.
Wherever and however you choose to give birth, all parents deserve to be surrounded by love and support for their choices as they meet their new ones for the first time. And if things don’t go according to plan, which I have also experienced, it becomes even more important to surround yourself with people who will help carry you through and allow you to process your experience.
I love birth stories. All birth stories. If you need to talk about yours for any reason, happy or not, comment or reach out! Let’s support each other on our journeys into parenthood.